I love TV, but for better or worse I can’t watch it all the time. So what do I do to pass the time between waking up and prime time or DVR viewing? – I listen to podcasts about TV.
While it’s damn near impossible to watch TV at work, podcasts are a great way to get your TV (or general entertainment) fix without losing an entire day’s worth of productivity. So here are my three favorite TV-related podcasts.
Entertainment Podcasts – Just Like TV Minus The Pictures
In the last few years The A.V. Club has toyed around with a few different incarnations of podcasts – most recently they’ve settled on a shorter format that lends itself to more frequent episodes and a diverse array of topics. Currently called Reasonable Discussions, the podcast is excellent for those with a random array of interests or entertainment ADD. It’s not all about TV, but come on – I do watch movies and listen to music too! Plus, every now and then Amelie Gillette (a former A.V. Club staff member and current writer on The Office) drops back in to do a very special episode of The Hatecast – an awesomely sarcastic take on what’s currently going on in the world.
Then there’s the weekly NPR podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which posts new episodes every Friday. The usual team of entertainment gurus include Linda Holmes, Trey Graham, Glen Weldon, and Stephen Thompson. Like Reasonable Discussions, PCHH bounces around from music and movies to TV and comics, and even books. But regardless of the weekly topics, I eagerly await each new episode because I enjoy the camaraderie of the roundtable and often find myself interested in something that I otherwise wouldn’t have sought out for myself.
And lastly there is the Nerdist Writer’s Panel, which I only recently found thanks to Pop Culture Happy Hour. Unlike the other two podcasts, the Nerdist Writer’s Panel is all about television and film and features a different group of writers each week. A revolving door of hosts keep things moving as the panel of writers discuss how they got into the business, shows or films they’ve been involved with (for better or worse), and more candid stories about the creation and execution of a script.
Guests on the panel include Bill Lawrence (Scrubs & Cougar Town), Jane Espenson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Once Upon A Time), Shawn Ryan (The Shield & Last Resort), Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life & Thirtysomething), David Fury (Angel & Lost), Dan Harmon (Community), Liz Meriwether (The New Girl), Peter Gould (Breaking Bad), and many more.
All of three of these podcasts are available on iTunes so plug in some headphones, start downloading, and enjoy!
Taking the idea of a ‘house band’ to a whole new level is the band Whale Tooth, which provides the diegetic or source music heard at the ‘Lux Motel on The L.A. Complex.
The Toronto-based band describes their music as dance/pop/rock, which probably characterizes just about any other band heard on The CW, but unlike most of the other bands whose music is used to fill a montage or set the mood for a scene, Whale Tooth‘s presence is different.
Whale Tooth Creates More Than The Soundtrack
The show uses the band like another character, which works to further develop the peripheral world of The L.A Complex. Their music wasn’t just added in post production for the sake of the viewers. Instead, the members of the band ‘live’ in the fictional motel complex and provide the soundtrack for the seemingly nightly parties or the daytime ambiance for their neighbors, which mostly consist of out-of-work actors and other Hollywood hopefuls of the sorts.
Considering their perpetual presence at The ‘Lux, its fair to say that the fictional incarnation of Whale Tooth probably doesn’t book too many gigs of their own. Perhaps more than anyone else in the motel, they epitomize the warped homeostasis that Los Angeles creates.
Everyone living at The ‘Lux is stuck in this limbo – unable to quit on a dream while simultaneously failing to succeed. But they remain there because they love what they do. And this seems most obvious with Whale Tooth. Their only listeners may be their neighbors, but they still get to perform for an audience and that seems to be enough of a reason to keep playing.
However, in season two you’ll notice that another Canadian band, The Rural Alberta Advantage, has since moved into The ‘Lux. Apparently there is only room for one house band. So whatever happened to the fictional Whale Tooth, do you think they signed a record deal and are making a name for themselves or simply packed it up and moved on? I’d like to believe that they’re still doing what they love (and getting paid for it), but as we all know, in the world of The L.A. Complex, dreams are generally out of reach.
As for the real Whale Tooth and The Rural Alberta Advantage, well I hope they find their audience. Each week I tune into The L.A. Complex, not just to see what’s going on with Conner, Nick, Abby, and Raquel but also to hear what what’s playing at The ‘Lux.
Watching Bunheads on ABC Family was kind of a no-brainer for me. I loved Gilmore Girls, I have lower expectations for summer TV, and I have a weakness for ABC Family shows in general. (In my defense I am in their target demographic.)
90s Nick favorites, All That and Kenan & Kel return to basic cable tomorrow on Nick At Nite. Even better yet, they are on at 8pm!
I know for a while now both shows have been on heavy rotation on Teen Nick during The 90s Are All That block but for those of us who grew up on Nickelodeon and now have jobs and/or don’t pay for anything fancier than basic cable, this is exciting news.
And if you are really looking to capture the nostalgia of the 90s then you might want to tune in on Wednesday because that episode of All That features the Backstreet Boys.
Kenan & Kel will follow at 8:30pm so make sure you have plenty of orange soda on hand.
After 8 seasons and and 177 episodes, House is slated to air its last-ever new episode this Monday at 9pm on FOX.
Part of me is like ‘Hooray!’, after all, it seems as if the series has really run out of steam and new diseases to diagnose. But as a fan of the series, I’ve run the gamut from casual viewer to obsessive viewer to bitter-ender, and at this point I’m rather invested in the endgame.
House was probably the last show I ever watched casually. Sometime in the second season I picked it up week to week and got ahold of the season 1 DVDs in order to catch up. Through seasons 4-6 I watched House obsessively. Any of my college roommates can attest to the ridiculous amount of time I spent watching the show live, on DVD, and in reruns on Bravo and the USA Network. I can still name most episodes by title and the disease in which the patient is suffering from. (When you’re in Grad School anything that isn’t course work or thesis writing is a fun and welcomed distraction.)
Even last season I watched the show live, prioritizing new episodes of House above anything else on at the same time. But this season was different, I only cared in that I wanted to know how it all ended.
Everybody Lies One Last Time
Earlier this week I read an article from the AV Club entitled What do we want from a TV finale?, which in turn really made me think about the upcoming House sendoff. Now the article was more focused on serialized shows with complex narratives, like Fringe or Lost, but it still made a few interesting observations about how viewer expectations and whether or not a series remains true to itself even in that finale hour dictate the perception of a ‘good ending’.
At its core, House has always been a procedural show, just with more sarcasm than anything airing on CSB. For a typical procedural I would be satisfied with the ‘life goes on’ ending, in which we know everyone is alright and will continue on doing what they’ve always done, just unseen on TV. The season 3 finale of Lie To Me is a great example of this – while they didn’t exactly get the chance to write a ‘series’ finale, the last episode acts well as one, but I’ve written about this before.
For House however, I don’t buy this scenario as a fitting ending. The character of House has never been okay on a day-to-day basis. It’s unreasonable and unsatisfactory to assume that he’ll go on working at PPTH, abusing his current team, and saving people after almost killing them a few times. House takes risks and does stupid things, he isn’t fufilled by the status-quo. Normal is not what he is looking for. After all, normal is overrated.
Some shows go out with a bang. Finales with a crazy plot twist or abrupt ending like Life on Mars, The Sopranos, or St. Elsewhere can be both mind boggling and frustrating. House has tried to employ the crazy in past season finales (hallucinations, bus crashes, more hallucinations, mental hospitals, crane crashes, and car crashes) with varying results so my fear is that this type of ending might feel more contrived than an organic result of what’s come before.
And then we have the House finale title: “Everybody Dies”. I’m not taking this literally of course, House is not Lost but the show has long debated about the afterlife and deals with death on a weekly basis. House himself has either almost died or been clincally dead a few times. And in addition to their patients, the characters on House have lost loved ones (Foreman’s mom, Thirteen’s brother, Chase’s dad, House’s dad) as well as coworkers like Kutner and Amber. Thirteen herself is dying and Wilson, as of a few episodes ago, is too. It’s evident why FOX has never promoted House as the feel-good show of the week.
Given the current story line its not unbelievable to assume that it is Wilson who meets his demise in the finale, but where does that leave House? He admitted out loud that he needs Wilson in his life and that would certainly leave the show on a somber note. Would David Shore really create a finale in which the main character is more tormented than when we first met him? Although its perhaps inline with the morose tone that perpetually fuels the series, I don’t know if that is the finale I want to see.
I suppose in the case of House its difficult for me to resolve my conflicting feelings of wanting to see all of the characters be okay with my knowledge of the House-verse and understanding that the finale episode is not entitled “Everybody’s Okay” for a reason.
So House fans out there, what do you hope or expect to see on Monday night’s finale? Are you looking for House to find happiness, go out with a bang, deal with death, or are you one of those fans still secretly hopping to see Cuddy again?
*It was Lupus once, episode 8 of season 4, “You Don’t Want To Know”.
Check out my newest Pretty Little Liars Suspect List for the premier of season 3B on January 8th 2013!
Who is A?
This is the burning question fans of Pretty Little Liars have pondered for the last few years. I created a Pretty Little Liars suspect list for season one, but after another game-changing finale, now seems like the perfect time to re-evaluate all of the major players in Rosewood.
The Pretty Little Liars: Aria, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna
While it certainly would be a twist I don’t think that it’s the road Pretty Little Liars is going to go down. All of the girls have been pretty terrorized by “A” so it’s highly unlikely that any one of them is really two-faced enough to pull it off, even if they have gotten really good at lying.
N.A.T Club – Garrett, Melissa, Ian, Jenna, Jason
A fake club referring to a Latin phrase meaning “Seeing All” is already rather suspicious but we also know that Garrett, Ian, Jason, Mellissa, and maybe even Jenna were up in Alison’s room the day she went missing so they top the guilty party list for now. While its possible they may have played a part in torturing Alison with threatening texts or blackmails, there has also been plenty of dissention and distrust within the group.
After all, Ian was once upon a time involved with Alison and ultimately framed for her murder and killed. Garrett and Jenna were dating only for that to end, and now Melissa and Garrett definitely have something going on. Also, Jenna was almost killed in a fire in “Eye of the Beholder” (2×22) and in the following episode “If These Dolls Could Talk” (2×24) she turned over Page 5 of the autopsy report to the police, landing Garret behind bars and charged with the murder of both Alison and Maya.
Jason has also been a shady character since his introduction and its convenient that he has no memory of that night. But as we recently found out he is Melissa and Spencer’s half-brother so is he playing nice or covering for someone else (like Melissa)?
Update: Besides Ian, because he’s dead, Jenna is the only other one that seems to be not-guilty in this group. She was already blind when Alison was killed and a video of her and Noel Kahn exonerate her from in the case of Maya’s murder. Melissa however not only faked her pregnancy but was also the black swan so she’s still sketchy despite being MIA for most of this season.
Garrett was on trial for the murder of Maya and Alison but when Cousin Nate was revealed to be not-Maya’s cousin but actually her killer, he was released from prison and charges were presumably dropped but we also know that the A-Team was working on getting him off the hook.
Suspicious But Too Obvious? Mona, Toby, Lucas, Noel, & Paige
Each one has had their “maybe they are A” moment, but ultimately they all seem to suffer from the wrong place, wrong time scenario. I still think Mona is pretty suspicious and only rule her out because of the book series and what has been said online about “A” in the TV series versus “A” in the books.
Lucas was clearly tortured and bullied by Alison but as he got closer to Hanna the “A” harassment only intensified and if he were “A” I think it would have tapered off not increased. Noel Kahn looks good and suspicious, but he isn’t around all that often so I’m thinking he doesn’t have anything to do with the texts or Alison’s death. Although both Noel and Lucas had on that creepy mask in the Halloween flashback episode, so maybe they haven’t been around for a reason.
I love Toby so it’s hard for me to be objective, but after all of the red herrings in season one I think the show has ruled him out as “A” and so have I.
Update: At the end of the second season finale, “unmAsked” (2×25), it was revealed that A was Mona (damn those misleading clues – I was so on to her). However, it quickly became clear that someone else was pulling the strings and that Mona is only one part in the entire thing.
Noel continues to be a shady character but a surveillance video of him and Jenna at his family’s cabin let’s him off the hook for Maya’s murder at the very least. We also now know that Paige had a volatile past with Alison and has a bit of an anger issue – so the question is – would her infatuation with Emily cause her to kill?
And I am 0 for 2. In the episode “Lady Killer” (3×12) we learn that Toby is working with Mona on the A-Team! Paige on the other hand is seeming more like a pawn in all of this – she was kidnapped by not-cousin Nate and apparently Maya’s phone has been planted in her purse.
New To Town: Maya, Caleb, Holden, Kate, Cece, & Nate
In the Halloween flashback episode “The First Secret” (2×13), we learned that Alison was being harassed by “A” prior to her death so that pretty much eliminates everyone new to town no matter how secretive, sketchy, or bitchy they may be.
Update: Maya’s dead so like Ian, she’s can’t be A. CeCe may be the exception to the rationalization for this list since she knew Alison. Is it coincidence that she’s showing up in Rosewood now and seems to know everyone and everything?
In the episode “Lady Killer” (3×12) Nate was revealed to be Maya’s stalker not cousin. So he killed her but seemingly has nothing to do with A’s game besides inadvertently getting Garrett out of jail.
The Parents – Hastings, Montgomery, Marin, Fields
Emily’s parents have been in Texas and overseas so I would say they are innocent. Hanna’s mom Ashley and Aria’s mom Ella have started to become truly worried about this “A” character and don’t seem to be behind the madness. While I wouldn’t give Aria’s dad a parenting award, “A” did threaten to expose his cheating ways so it stands to reason it’s not him either. Spencer’s parents on the other hand are either ‘out of town on business’ or speaking in riddles. Also a lot of “A” related events have gone down on the Hastings property or inside of their house.
Also on a side note, where the hell are Jenna and Toby’s parents?
Others: Wren, Ezra, and Mike
Not everyone in town can look guilty; I guess that is what these characters are for. Also with the exception of Mike, they have all been on and off again love interests which are not atypical for a teen show.
This is my far-fetched guess and crazy theory but in “The First Secret”, the episode opens with Alison telling the story of a pair of twins, one of which who was locked in a mental institution until she escaped and started killing. Now this could obviously be a story or even a metaphor for Alison’s alter-ego Vivian who lived almost a completely different life but in that episode there is a picture hanging on the wall of Alison’s bed room that shows two girls and Jason.
While the picture isn’t as convincing as I imaged when I first learned of its existence, the inscription below the photo roughly says double the laughter and double the trouble with twins – that is if you trust my friend’s French translation abilities, which I can’t vouch for.
So what are your thoughts? Besides having pretty eyes and an affinity for black hoodies we still don’t know many other descriptive details. Male or female, don’t know, but “A” sure seems to have a lot of money at their disposal. It also stands to reason that “A” is more than one person because it would be pretty hard to know that much on your own.
Update: At the end of “Single Fright Female” (3×11), the penultimate episode before the BetrAyal, the tag confirmed the existence of more than one black-hoodie-wearing “A”. In the following episode “Lady Killer” (3×12), we learn that, that person is Toby.
So catch up or rewatch some Pretty Little Liars until the next “A” reveal.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on March 10th 1997, although if you’re reading this post there is a good chance you already know that. Slated as a mid-season replacement for the start-up network, The WB aired the two-part series premier “Welcome to the Hellmouth” and “The Harvest” back to back. My parents caught both episodes and thought my brother and I might like it – I don’t think it ever dawned on them that I would like it so much.
At the time I was only 11 and had a 9pm bedtime so I didn’t typically get to watch anything after 7th Heaven but the following week my parents let us stay up to watch Buffy’s third episode “The Witch”. The show quickly became a family favorite and an exception to our 9pm bedtime rule.
While everyone in my family considered themselves a fan and the show remained appointment viewing for all seven seasons, it became clear around the 4th and 5th seasons that I was way more invested than my family or even friends for that matter. So when I say “Happy 15th Anniversary” to Buffy the Vampire Slayer I guess I really mean to say, “Thanks Joss Whedon for the last 15 years and for creating the Buffyverse”.
A Toast To Buffy The Vampire Slayer
To celebrate this occasion here’s 15 things I love about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
1. Joss Whedon took creative chances, which led to some of the most excellent and original episodes of TV that I have ever seen. Standouts include “Hush”, a mostly dialogue free episode, “Once More With Feeling”, the musical episode, “Restless”, a dream filled episode with lots of hints about seasons to come, “The Body”, which deals with the loss of a loved one in the most uncomfortably realistic way possible, and “The Zeppo”, which gives Xander a chance to shine while the typical A-story apocalypse happens in the background.
2. The show shifts tones almost seamlessly. Laughter and tears are totally possible in the same episode. The humor in the show undercuts the serious moments, which is pretty much my approach to life on a regular basis.
3. At the end of every episode the little Mutant Enemy man crosses the screen saying “Grr Arrg”, and on very special occasions it mixes it up with a santa hat, graduation cap, or other episode related in-jokes.
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and many of Whedon’s other works feature villians who are truely creepy and devoted to their evil ways. The bad guys aren’t just caricatures but multi-dimensional characters that truly believe what they are doing is right or are unwaveringly committed to being evil. The Mayor is a great example b/c he takes the time to meet with the boy scouts, acts as a fatherly figure to Faith, and is a germ freak yet he’s a demon who ascends on Graduation Day.
5. Whedonverse characters grow and not just up. They mature, learn to be less selfish, and embrace responsibility. Buffy empowers another generation of girls, Xander accepts his non-superpower self, Anya chooses to become a human and fight till the end, Faith goes on her own redemptive journey, and Cordelia becomes a hero in her own right.
6. Buffy made being an outsider okay. The show teaches you that with the right group of friends you can survive anything from high school to the end of the world.
7. Just about all two-parters were action packed and insanely suspenseful. From “Welcome to the Hellmouth” and “The Harvest” to “Surprise” and “Innocence” and “Graduation Day Part 1 & 2” the week-long wait between new episodes was almost unbearable.
8. Over seven seasons Buffy and the Scooby gang celebrated several holidays, which is great to re-watch every year. Besides Buffy’s Birthday there is Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day.
9. Every time I hear the theme song by Nerf Herder, I can’t help but rock out. I also love Oz’s band Dingos Ate My Baby, a.k.a Four Star Mary.
10. While I firmly believe that seasons 1-5 are better than 6 or 7 I still appreciate the way the show went out. Buffy the Vampire Slayer finished up on its own terms and in a way that seemed fitting for the series.
11. The show’s quotability: “I mock you with my monkey pants.”, “You made a bear. Undo it.”, “… bogart out the cheesy chips.”, “five by five”, “The earth is doomed.”, etc…
12. Buffy chooses Buffy over Spike or Angel. Although I’ve never really been a ‘shipper I’ve always been partial to Angel, even though there is that whole risk of Angelus returning, but either way I was happy that Buffy chose to be on because as she put she was still “cookie dough”.
13. One of the few bright spots of season four: Anya’s bunny costume and general fear of those normally cute creatures. What started out as a sight gag became a long running joke that never got old.
14. The show kicked more than demon ass. Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured strong male and female characters that everyone could look up to. Throughout middle school, high school, and even in college when I would re-watch episodes on DVD, Buffy remained a constant in my life and helped me through the good times and the bad.
15. She saved the world a lot.
NBC’s been on the receiving end of a lot of questions and criticism for their upcoming mid-season TV schedule; however, this time it’s not because of some new show that looks terrible. Instead, all of the flak is coming from what’s not there – it seems that Community didn’t quite make the grade this time around.
But is Community cancelled, no!
While Community has continually been ratings-challenged, this isn’t necessarily the end. On the flip side though, it’s never a good sign when a show is unexpectedly pulled from the schedule with no established return date.
Besides the general anger directed towards NBC, critics and fans have primarily reacted in one of two ways: rationalizing why NBC wouldn’t actually cancel such a beloved and creative show, especially since NBC’s ratings suck in general or declare doomsday and rally the troops for a save-the-show campaign.
While I really don’t want to see Community cancelled, I’m more willing to believe that NBC’s overall disarray will ultimately save the show. Well that, and the fact that one more season gets the show closer to the magic number needed for syndication. (Although so was Arrested Development.)
Not quite convinced, the seemingly intelligent people at AV Club and Vulture have also provided a number of rational reasons why everyone should just calm down. It’s too soon to whip out the felt goatee and embrace the evil timeline.
Plus, to be honest fan campaigns only work when there are other important factors involved – like money or sponsors. And as much as I love signing online petitions, voting in SOS polls, and mailing bags of marshmallows to network executives, I’ve become a bit of a realist. You can’t just cause a ruckus and hope that sheer will power will buy you an extra season or at the very least a couple of episodes.
What Community Fans Can Learn From Other Campaigns
If you look back on other shows that have been saved or more notably failed to be saved, a not so surprising pattern emerges. Networks need to have a good incentive besides boisterous fans in order to renew a show.
Jericho fans barrage CBS with nuts – they earn just seven more episodes to wrap up its season one cliffhanger.
Rabid Roswell fans similarly utilized a mailing campaign. Bottles of Tabasco sauce were sent to The WB, which kept the show alive for two seasons before the ax fell. However, another fan campaign and a deal between Twentieth Century FOX and UPN that included Buffy the Vampire Slayer extended the life of the show into an 18-episode third season.
Veronica Mars was another UPN show constantly on the verge of cancelation, but committed fans and the creation of The CW helped the show last three seasons. Low ratings however finally triumphed over a last ditch marshmallow-mailing effort by the fans and a willingness to reboot the series by jumping ahead by the show’s creator were not enough. Although rumors of a movie continue to circulate by both Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell.
The beloved series Friday Night Lights may have went out on top and when it was ready, but for a while it looked like it was going to join the cancelled too soon club. Low ratings combined with the Writer’s Strike caused NBC to question its future. Fan campaigns that included DVD purchases, football and light bulb mailings, and donations to charities were great and all but a deal with DirecTV ultimately gave the show three more well deserved seasons.
And on the completely opposite end of the spectrum is Family Guy, which was cancelled by FOX in 2002. No fan campaigns were ever launched. The show simply found an audience in syndication on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Coupled with outstanding DVD sales, FOX resurrected the show in 2005 and it continues to be a staple on FOX’s Sunday Night Animation Domination block.
There’s plenty of other successful and failed examples out there too, like Angel and Chuck or One Tree Hill and Everwood. So while I am not trying to discourage Community fans, since I am one, I’m just trying to present a more realistic picture of how fan campaigns play into a show’s overall lifespan. Also it never hurts to let networks know that there are fans out there who want more.
So let’s enjoy the remaining few episodes Community has to air and then hope that whatever NBC has lined up for the mid-season fails terribly. But just in case, here’s the link to make your very own Community evil timeline goatee.
If you prefer to sign a petition, visit Save-Community.com. And here are more Community fan campaign ideas to run with if you’re interested in a more active approach. And lastly, if you need posters for whatever campaign idea you’ve concocted, check out these awesome non-NBC Community posters created by graphic artist Jon Defreest, two of which are pictured above.